This is inspired by this question:
How do you raise an intelligent and happy daughter in a sexist world?
The reasoning behind that being a "bad" question is that its content is primarily composed of irrelevant information (that happens to be controversial), and the boiled-down question is "How do I raise a girl?", which is incredibly broad and subjective.
But there are others with a high view count (acquired over longer time), that could also be considered off-topic. Another is:
Can "The Giving Tree" be explained in a way that isn't an unhealthy lesson?
I would say it's a bad question, because it's barely related to parenting (it's about a children's book), but it's really asking for a book discussion/literature interpretation.
Although the questions aren't that good, they do attract a lot of attention and receive some decent answers. However, these answers also lend themselves to disagreeing with the premise.
In both these questions, the highest voted answers essentially disagree with the question itself. The answer about raising a daughter is literally a point-by-point counter of each of the elements in the question body, but it doesn't actually answer the question of what to do, and instead focuses on what not to do.
In the question about the book, the upvoted answer ends with:
The wonder of this book, though, is that it works subconsciously. You don't actually have to talk about it at all to benefit from what it has to teach.
Which is essentially saying, "Don't try to explain it, just read it.", a direct counter to the question as asked.
The majority of the traffic to these questions is likely from users that are not regular members of the Parenting.SE community. Many of the original comments on the "raising a daughter" question, and comments on the answers, are from users with little to no rep on Parenting.SE. (I have nothing against that, I just wanted to point out that I'm not making a blind assumption regarding viewership).
But what should we, as a community, do to improve these types of questions? They become so popular that they end up attracting users that sign in to do nothing more than vote, leave a comment, or write that single answer. This means that the regular community doesn't have the volume to use their voting power to shape the outcome. We're really at the mercy of guests (even if those guests are long time users of other SE sites).
Should we make heavy edits that make the questions on-topic and answerable?
- When are edits reasonable? The "raising a daughter question" could be changed to a "How do I raise a confident, well-adjusted daughter in a sexist society?", but most of the content would be superfluous.
- Many of the answers specifically call out the information that makes the question not on topic, so they would become obsolete.
Should we just close them?
- There is a small number of highly active users that actually cast close/reopen votes, and we often seem to be split when it comes to "controversial" questions.
- Should we actually increase the required reputation to earn the close and reopen privileges?
Should we leave them open and get the attention?
- Even if it adds to the stigma that Parenting.SE doesn't strive for quality questions?
- Even if it's attracting "attack the premise" answers
Are there other options we should pursue?
I've just avoided this question myself, aside from my VTC. My vested interest in this question is that Parenting.SE is my "home" site, and I genuinely want to see it grow and prosper. I don't believe these questions attract positive attention to our beta. Some of the reactions from the commenters even seem to indicate that the "raising a daughter" question is absurd, or that our community is absurd for allowing it.
If these questions are the first impressions of thousands of users, I don't see them attracting people who want to keep coming back.
What do we do when a popular answer doesn't seem to directly address the question?
Should questions be closed when they're wildly popular, have good answers, and more up votes than down votes?